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7/11/2018 6:20:00 PM
Vigo County convention center fund needs more innkeepers' tax, board prez says

Dave Taylor, Tribune-Star

The Vigo County Council must act on a second tax in order to fully fund a planned Terre Haute convention center.

Monday’s approval of a 1 percent food and beverage tax “should get things moving” on planning for the facility, Greg Gibson, board president of the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau of Vigo County, said Tuesday. Proceeds from the tax will go toward operating expenses.

But the county’s innkeeper’s tax must also be increased by 1.5 percentage points so the Visitors Bureau can meet its obligation to contribute $5 million toward construction, Gibson said during the board’s regular monthly meeting. He pointed out the increase has long been part of the funding mix. 

“The County Council has to make that move first,” Gibson said. “Why they didn’t do it in the meeting with the food and beverage [tax] I don’t know. … We’ll probably have to push to get that done.”

County Council President Aaron Loudermilk did not respond Tuesday to a Tribune-Star telephone message seeking comment.

Visitors Bureau Director Dave Patterson said he will send a reminder to the council about the need to boost the tax on lodging and camping from 6.5 percent, where it has stood since 2013, to 8 percent.

Combined with the 7 percent state sales tax, the increase would bring total taxes on lodging in Vigo County to 15 percent, placing the county in a tie with Vanderburgh County for the second-highest rate in Indiana. Marion County’s rate of 17 percent is the state’s highest and among the highest in the country.

In addition to the $5 million from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Terre Haute and Vigo County have each pledged $10 million from local income tax receipts toward construction.

“For once, Terre Haute and Vigo County are doing some pro-active things,” Gibson said. “That’s been very unusual over the years. I’m very optimistic about what we might be able to do with the [convention center]).”

The 2018 hotel/motel tax receipts stand at about $200,000 at mid-year, Patterson said. That’s an increase of about $20,000 from the same point in 2017.

Air show preparations

Patterson told the board about 30,000 tickets have been sold so far for the Terre Haute Air Show scheduled for Aug. 18-19.

“I really think this is going to be the best air show we’ve ever had,” he said.

Thanks to the efforts of Indiana State Police and the Department of Homeland Security, those attending the event can expect a much higher level of security than the last Air Show in 2007, officials said. 

“It’s really taken a different path … from the five shows we had ending 11 years ago to today,” Patterson said. “In a way it’s really comforting that they’re that focused on safety and security.”

The show will have the same precautions as those in place for major sporting events, he said. That means coolers and large purses will be prohibited and random inspections will be made of car trunks and cell phones – the latter to screen for transmitters disguised as phones, he said.

Related Stories:
• Vigo County OKs 1 percent food and beverage tax

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